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When the Mahatma'scowardserupt in fury it hurts. It isn't terror.
'Hindu terrorism', ffi Sthere sucha thing as arrestof SadhviPragyaSingh ffi "r the ffi fhakur for the recent Malegaonblastsmay I to Well, I guess was asked tend to prove? I write this columnbecause am oneof that
rare breed of foreign correspondents-a lover of Hindus! A born Frenchman, Catholic-educatedand non-Hindu, I do hope I'll be given some credit for my opinions, which are not the product of my parents'ideas,my education or my atavism, but garnered from 25 years of reporting in South Asia (for Le Journal de Geneveand Le Figaro). In the early 1980s,when I started freelancing in south India, doing photo features on kalaripayattu, the Ayyappa festival, or the Ayyanars,I slowly realised that the genius of this countrylies in its Hindu ethos,inthe true spirituality behind Hinduism. The averageHindu you meet in a million vilthis simple, innate spirilagespossesses tuality and accepts your diversity, whether you are Christian or Muslim, Jain or Arab. French or Chinese.It is this Hindunessthat makesthe Indian Christian different from, say,a French Christian, orthe Indian Muslimunlike aSaudiMuslim. I also learnt that Hindus not only believed that the divine could manifest itself at different times, under different names,using different scriptures (not to mention the wonderful avatar concep! the perfect answer to 21stcentury religious strife) but that they had alsogiven refugeto persecutedminorities from acrosstheworld-SyrJews,Armenians,and today,Tibetans. ian Christians,Parsis, In 3,5O0years of existence, Hindus have never militarily invaded another country, never tried to impose their religion on others by force or induced conversions. You cannot fi nd anybodylessfu ndamentalistthan a Hindu in the world and it saddensme when I seethe Indian and western press equating terrorist groups like srur, which blow up innocent civilians, with ordinary, angry Hindus whoburn churcheswithoutkillinganybody. We know also that most of these communal incidents often involve personsfrom the samegroups-often Dalits and tribals-some of who have convertedto Christianity and others not. However reprehensiblethe destruction of Babri Masjid, no Muslim was killed in the process;compare this to the 'vengeance'bombings t993 in Bombay,which wiped out of hundreds of innocents, mostly Hindus. Yet the Babri Masjid destruction is often describedby journalists asthe more horrible act of the t'nro.We also remember how SharadPawar,when he was chief minister of Maharashtra in L993,lied about a bomb that was supposedto have gone offin a Muslim locality of Bombay. I havenever been politically correct, but havealwayswritten what I have discoveredwhile reporting. Let me then be straightforward about this so-called Hindu terror. Hindus, sincethe firstArab invasions,havebeenatthe receivingend of terrorism, whether it was by Timur, who killed 1,00,ooo or Hindus in a single day in L399, by the PortugueseInquisition which crucified Brahmins in Goa.Today,Hindus are still being targeted: there were one million Hindus in the only a few hundred remain, the rest Kashmir valley in 19O0; soRrr having fled in terror. Blasts after blasts have killed hundreds of innocent Hindus all over India in the last four years.Hindus, the overwhelming majority community of this country, are being made fun of, are despised,are deprived of the most basic facilities for one of their most sacredpilgrimages in Amarnath while their government heavily sponsors the Haj. They seetheir brothers and sistersconvertedto Christianity through inducements and fi nancial traps, seea harmless84-year-old swami and a sadhvi brutally murdered. Their gods are blasphemed. enoughis enough.Atsome poin! afteryears Sosometimes, or evencenturies of submittinglike sheepto slaughter,Hindus-whom the Mahatrna once gently called cowards-erupt in uncontrolled fury. And it hurts badly. It happened in Gujarat. It happened in Jammu, then in Kandhamal, ManWhat galore,and Malegaon.It may happen againelsewhere. revolution should be understoodis that this is a spontaneous on the ground, by ordinary Hindus, without any planning from the political leadership.Therefore, the r.rr, instead of acting embarrassed,should not disown those who choose other meansto let their anguishedvoicesbe heard. There are about abillion Hindus, one in every six persons lawon this planet. They form one of the most successful, abiding and integrated communities in the world today. Can you call them terrorists?s (The writer is the editor-in-chiefof the Paris-based La Revuede l'Inde)

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10 November 2008 OUTLOOK